SINGAPORE – Benchmarks on surgeons’ fees, which have helped to keep a lid on medical bills in the private sector, will be extended to cover all surgical procedures from June 14. New benchmarks have also been published for some hospital charges.
These fee guidelines, first introduced in 2018, have been effective in moderating private surgeons’ fees. They are part of a larger strategy to manage rising healthcare costs, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday.
The guidelines, which provide a reference for patients, insurers and healthcare providers on what is typically charged for a certain procedure, have been updated to account for inflation. New benchmarks for hospital charges, apart from surgeons’ fees, will give patients a better idea of whether their bills are reasonable, the authorities added.
“Doctors and hospitals are strongly encouraged to be upfront on the fee components charged by them. They should work together to keep their charges within the hospital fee benchmarks,” said MOH.
Indicating that the strategy has been working, it said when the fee benchmarks – that provide a range of the charges – were introduced in 2018, about 20 per cent of bills were higher than the upper limit. Now, only 10 per cent of doctors are charging above the upper limit.
Meanwhile, the median private surgeon fee has remained stable, while higher fees have fallen, with fees at the 90th percentile falling by 1.7 per cent per year for procedures with benchmarks.
The benchmarks, which were initially published for 200 common surgical operations that accounted for 85 per cent of all such procedures, will now be expanded to cover surgeons’ fees for all surgical procedures that MediShield Life, the national healthcare insurance scheme, covers. This will be done by adding the remaining 1,900 procedures to the list.
Benchmarks for anaesthetic procedures, first introduced in 2020, have been rolled out for another 300 procedures. This will cover 95 per cent of all cases that require anaesthesia.
For the first time, the MOH has also introduced benchmarks for hospital charges, including components such as room charges and surgical facilities, for 21 common surgical procedures and eight common medical conditions – such as for cataract surgery.
The Fee Benchmark Advisory Committee said: “The hospital fee benchmar...